My entire life, I have run into doubters.
People who tell me I can’t do things. People who say my predictions won’t turn out. People who say, “Carl, don’t propose to that woman and have a wonderful son named Colby” or “Carl, there’s no tradition of eating ‘election cake.’”
But all chickens must come home to roost. And after being the only pundit to successfully predict Bernie Sanders’ victory in Indiana, being hailed in the pages of today’s Washington Post, and causing Nate Silver to throw a pathetic tantrum on Twitter, I have once again proved everyone wrong.
There’s something new and big in the works, Digheads. It’s coming later this week. But while I can’t fully elaborate on that just yet, there’s one thing I can talk about: every single person in my life who has done me wrong.
Rep. Gregory Chairs (R-VA)
After my junior year at Wellesley, I took an internship in DC to get my feet wet in the rough and tumble world of politics. At first Congressman Chairs — “Greggy,” as he asked us interns to call him — seemed like the perfect boss. He would give his favorite interns intimate assignments like handling his dry cleaning and taking his suit measurements in the House Washroom. But I never got those plum gigs. It seems Greggy had it out for Young Diggy. While I spent long nights forced to stuff envelopes and sign his form letters promising to reinstate Apartheid, the “Honorable” Rep. Chairs showered lazier interns with favors, even taking them out for drinks at his ritzy K Street bachelor pad. By the end of the summer I was pretty sick of Rep. Chairs’ little favorites always getting the after-hours invitations and first dibs on the donut chairs in the office. The last day of my internship, I worked up the courage to knock on his door and demand to know why he never asked me to spend a night enjoying “poppers” and HBO and “chill.” He stammered and gave me this whole song and dance about caring for all of his young workers, then he asked me to leave without a “fuss.” As Capitol Security marched me down the hallway and out of the building, I realized I was a smart person with a career in asking powerful people tough questions ahead of him.
Marvin Dimples, editor, Minnetonka Bugle
I cut my journalistic teeth at a small town newspaper with a big heart. The Bugle gave me my big break. From challenging school board members about their stance on abortion to demanding JV girls volleyball players disavow Newt Gingrich’s agenda, The Dig made a name for himself as a tough, take-no-prisoners journalist. In fact, when two local pols, Tim Pawlenty and Al Franken, crashed the national stage, my star rose with them, as my experience as a veteran Minnesota-watcher propelled me to the national desk at CAFE.
But before that professional coup, I had to face off with my hated editor, Marvin Dimples. Marvin had it out for me from dios uno. I remember standing in a line with my fellow cubs as Marvin looked us over and declared, “What is that repulsive stench? That smell of utter death? Is it this filthy fuck? [gesturing to me with a fountain pen] This man will not be a reporter. He is barely a human being. No — scratch that. He is not a human being. Is he some sort of slug creature.”
But I had the last laugh: In 1995, Marvin literally disappeared, while I would go on to pen Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman.
Judge Ellen Tao
Or should I call her “Misjudgement” Tao? This family court tyrant’s continual rulings against me represent why Americans no longer trust our judicial institutions. These draconian acts include forcing me to wear an ankle monitor during supervised visits and holding me in contempt of court due to my epic takedowns of the family court system. (She also has refused to acknowledge my Polk Award nomination during proceedings).
But you thought I would accept the shackles of the criminal justice system in silence. You couldn’t imagine that one day I would eclipse the entire media with the bright shining light of my predictions. And now you must answer to a man appointed as a seer by his people. You, “your honor,” are out of order.
Hoagies while I wait? Wow, that wait seems awfully long while my tie is stuck in your hot dog roller and your staff is doing precious little to help. Your corporate stonewalling of my FOIA requests for internal hot dog roller safety standards only strengthened my resolve, by the way. Now the reporter who you angered with your callous food warmers is a hero for his prescience. Feeling scared?
Sen. John Thune
The diagnosis hit me like a heavy bag of bricks. “Sir, your son is showing signs of disordered thought. When I asked him to describe his feelings he named the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the David Souter confirmation hearings.”
Ex-Mrs. The Dig broke into tears. I would have consoled her, but the court-appointed mediation bailiff had a frankly silly aversion to touching.
I realized then and there that I had spent too much of my life concerned with my job as a well-connected and beloved journalist. I had Wesley Clark on speed-dial, but not my son’s math teacher. I could name every brave moderate in the Gang of Eight, but I couldn’t name even one of my son’s imaginary friends. I spent too much time reading him the “Durbin-Tancredo Emergency Bipartisan Medicare Benefit Reduction Act” and too little time reading Charlotte’s Web.
I looked my round boy in the eye, and I said to him, “Colby, I am going to fix your mental illness. I am going to be a more active father, so long as doing so would conform to the legal rulings of the family court of New York without conceding the affirmative defense of illegal fringes on flags, which, pending an Appeals Court ruling, would invalidate all pre-existing custody arrangements from here to the end of time.” I shot a glance at the bailiff; I could swear I saw him wipe a tear from his eye.
One month after that, I had a full day of custody of my round son and I said to him, “Put the Gameboy down — because the ankle bracelet is off, and we are going to meet someone pretty special.” Suddenly, defeating Zelda to win the Mario wasn’t so important anymore. As we entered the DC Metro, Colby peppered me with so many questions — questions like, “Dad, are we gonna meet Obama?” and “Dad, you know Obama, right? That’s someone you could have us meet, right? Obama, the President?” Out of the mouths of babes!
We got out at the Hart Senate Office Building and took the elevator to the fourth floor. First door on the right, one knock, and there he was, in all his 6’4″ glory: senior South Dakota Senator John Thune.
As Colby marveled, mouth agape, I helped him contextualize the situation.
“That’s the man who felled Tom Daschle,” I bragged. “And your old man is friends with him.”
Thune extended his hand and gave my boy a firm shake. “Pleasure to meet you, Carlton. Your dad tells me you’re a pretty smart young man.”
I made a finger-across-the-throat motion to the Senator and whispered in his ear. “His name is Colby, and his brain is broken. Stop saying he’s smart. What’s wrong with you?“
The Senator frowned and waved us into his office. While Colby played with the clackers and drinky bird on Thune’s desk, I got down to business.
“Mister Senator,” I said, pulling out my reporter’s notebook, “as you know, NATO has just commenced bombing Libya. How much do you support beating the bad guys there?”
“Now, hang on,” stammered the Senator. “I, uh, this isn’t a media call. You’re here for Make-A-Wish, right?”
I smiled. “Well, Senator, it is everyone’s wish — especially dying and dead children — for our elected officials to answer the tough questions. Now, how much do you support NATO: implicitly or extremely?”
I want to say I didn’t cry, but I did cry — for the death of the free press — as I was thrown out of Sen. Thune’s office by two burly guards who refused to answer my demands to identify which flag they drew their authority to use physical force under (illegal).
I sat on the sidewalk composing myself and rehearsing the various legal motions I would file when Colby came skipping down the steps licking an oversized lollipop. I looked in my round boy’s eyes and thought: I can’t in good conscience drag him into this adult legal matter. I can’t destroy my round son’s heroic image of Senator John Thune. Not today. Not on unsupervised custody day.
I picked myself up off the street, leaned down to Colby, and said, “Hey champ, I think I saw a Dave and Buster’s a few blocks over. Bet you can’t beat your old man at a round of air hockey.”
Hearing those words, Colby’s face got so bright you could have used it to power benevolent disruptor T. Boone Pickens’ alternative energy strategy for America.
I got a handful of tokens and a bucket of beers (on the Bugle‘s tab, naturally) and treated my son to an afternoon of air hockey, foosball, and skeeball. We kept score at first, but as the hours melted away, we both stopped caring about the winners and losers of the week. Concerns like family court, rampant partisanship, and corrupt anti-journalist Congressmen melted away. All that mattered was a father and son having a helluva time together.
I took our winnings and showed Colby a thing or two about how to haggle, convincing the man at the desk to give us a John Anderson bobble-head when we only had enough tickets for a William E. Miller playing card.
By sundown my boy was all tuckered out, and I carried him to Ex-Mrs. The Dig’s townhouse. The look on her face, seeing Colby and all his prizes, was all I needed to know that his brain was completely fixed and no longer messed up. I had fixed my son.
I tipped my hat to Ex-Mrs. The Dig’s cowardly boyfriend and staggered off into the night. With every step, I thought to myself, “If only being a pundit were as easy as being a good dad.”
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at [email protected] or Tweet to @carl_diggler.
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